Sustainable recovery, investor collaboration on COVID-19 recovery and climate emergency

Good afternoon everyone and thank you to the London Stock Exchange for organising this event.

Many people across the world are looking to governments during this global emergency to provide leadership and clarity to overcome the unprecedented challenges that we are facing.

Countries across the globe have taken the extraordinary measures to shut down large swathes of their economies in order to combat the coronavirus public health emergency.

In the UK, we did this on 23 March (2020) and we also launched a series of major policy initiatives to support businesses and individuals through the pandemic. Our aim has been to protect businesses, workers and consumers through these measures.

And while we will sadly not be able to save every business and every job, we hope that our measures have provided some certainty and consistency of support.

So as we emerge from the public health pandemic, we not only want to support businesses to bounce back as quickly as possible, but also to do so in a way that meets the UK’s big, structural challenges.

This is why we want to deliver a green recovery. And we want to do that in partnership with business and finance.

I am here today, as the Business Secretary in the UK government, and as President for COP26, to underline the role you, the business community, can play in that joint endeavour.

Because finance and investment are the lifeblood of net zero projects – and we can only meet this challenge together.

1. Experience working in the private sector

I know the role finance can play in delivering this change, having worked in corporate finance myself for over 15 years before I came into politics.

I know the drive to deliver a return on investment and the search for growth areas in the economy.

When I worked in the banking sector, certainly at the start of it, green finance was a nascent initiative.

But things have changed and they do change.

So much so that today we have a former Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, whose warning that if some companies fail to adjust to a net zero world, they will fail to exist.

The risks are clear, but actually the opportunities are clearer yet.

And actually it is worth pointing out that since 1990, the UK economy has grown by 75% but at the same time we have cut emissions by 43%.

In the UK we have shown that green growth is possible.

The International Energy Agency has estimated that $13.5 trillion of public and private investment in the global energy sector alone will be required between 2015 and 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement targets.

And the International Renewable Energy Agency recently found that renewable energy would bring returns of between 3-8 dollars on every dollar invested.

BlackRock found that in the first quarter of 2020, during the pandemic, 94% of a set of sustainable funds outperformed their non-sustainable counterparts.

So my message is simple, and I say this as a former financier to the current cohort: the UK is the place for you to invest in green assets.

And you will be welcomed and right to do so.

2. BEIS

My department, the business department, is leading work to support a green recovery.

Helping our world-leading offshore wind industry reach 40GW by 2030.

Building the first fully-deployed carbon capture storage cluster by the mid-2020s.

Supporting energy intensive industries as they move to low-carbon techniques.

Helping to improve the energy-efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals.

And delivering 2 million new high-quality jobs in clean growth over the next decade.

Today, nearly half a million people across our country are employed in the low carbon economy and its supply chains.

And recovering from this pandemic makes these projects more necessary and more important than ever. And many of them require private finance to deliver.

Which is why I am currently engaging with businesses across the country on the opportunities that arise from our net zero commitment and how they can support a green recovery.

And we will continue to do so, so I invite all of you to contribute to our thinking by submitting written responses to the questions that we have set out on GOV.UK, and if you’d like to know how to do it then please

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